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November 2017

The Relationship between Social Media & Experiential Marketing

Image result for social media and experiential marketing

As discussed in last week’s blogpost, it has been established that an event is an activity that helps a brand connect on a cognitive level with their consumers. However, according to Brett Hyman, president of NVE Experience Agency, when an event is further amplified using technology and social media, it then has the potential to engage with people further than it’s attendees. An event that engages with 500 attendees, can eventually reach 500,000 people or even more, with the help of social media.

Even though experiential marketing is known to be a highly consumer-engaging activity, it is highly limited to effect only those who are to attend and take part in the activation. Applying a singular approach to a campaign where the brand deploys only an event (activation) or only social media can be less effective in comparison to a hybrid approach wherein the brand uses a multichannel approach in their marketing campaign.

The use of social media for an activation begins much prior to the event itself. It provides a platform for the brand to share information about the event and create a buzz and excitement amongst the consumers (attendees). This is a great opportunity for the brand to execute word-of-mouth marketing, wherein the consumers are incentivized to share and discuss the upcoming event.

In today’s day and age where the internet & social media are the first touch points of any consumer looking for information on a brand. Other than basic brand presence on social media via brand pages on all channels, it is also crucial to get consumers to start advocating and conversing about their brand-experience. Social media is a platform that can be organically used to deliver a consumer brand experience prior to and during the activation.

This shouldn’t be too difficult considering the fact that “people spend over 4 hours a day on the phones”. Social media is a platform where people share their experiences. Creating a unique and fun experience would encourage consumers to generate content at the event itself and hence showcase the brand in a positive light. Boosting interaction on social media is popularly done using tactics such as an event hashtag, teasers, social walls at the event, etc.

According to Shea Carter of MMGY Global, “74% of experiential event participants have a more positive opinion about the brand, product, or service being promoted after the event.” Therefore, it is equally important to keep engaged with the customers once the event is over as well by distributing content that has been created at the event. These could be testimonials, statistics, event images & videos, etc.


A great example of a hybrid social media & experiential campaign successfully executed is one done by Oreo. Their “Daily Twist” Campaign celebrated their 100th anniversary which lasted for 100 days where Oreo would share an image of the cookie as a representation of modern events & issues. The final event took place in Times Square where the final cookie was created based on votes from consumers on social media in a pop-up glass office. The final twist was a cookie that celebrated the first high-five displayed on a digital billboard


By Ganesh Iyer, Managing Partner of FLC Group.

For Gulf Marketing Review. 

Yes, you read it right. The CMO position is dying, welcome the new CXO. Marketing is no more only about the 5Ps we learnt in business schools. Consumers have evolved and so has the sales and marketing process.

When The Coca-Cola Company initiated its Global Innovation Group in 1995, their focus was to find ways to grow within the existing non-alcoholic beverage category. A major part of the R&D commercialisation was done internally and with established strategic suppliers. This was typical of how innovation was done at Fortune 1,000 companies back in the day.

The pattern of marketing has changed too over the years. It has moved from a hard selling concept which involved selling goods to consumer benefits approach, to a more ‘Consumer Experience’ driven approach. Today, it is not just about pull or push, but more about building a relationship and delivering on that. The role of the CMO is not confined to creating communication to attract customers, it is now about creating stories to stay relevant to customers and deliver a brand experience.

This ‘experiential’ consumption is driven by the millennial generation. They tend to define themselves by what they experience rather than by what they own. This has created opportunities for the brand to be ‘customer-centric’. This is where the newly defined role of the CMO comes in.

The role needs to be redefined as ‘Chief Consumer Experience Officer – the CXO’, because their major goal would be to analyse the consumer journey and deliver a ‘wow’ worthy experience. Memorable storytelling, excellent knowledge of the brand and communicating the same to the consumer in-store, enhancing the experience through digital and employing omni-channel strategies are new ways to reach today’s customers.

PWC’s latest report released this year states that 82 per cent of the top-performing companies pay attention to the human experience surrounding digital tech. Also, 42 per cent of executives see IoT as disruptive to their business model. In today’s multi-touchpoint, multichannel, always-on, hyper-connected consumer markets, there has been an explosion of potential customer interaction points – across new channels, devices, applications, making the consistency of service and experience across channels impossible.

This is where digital enhances these interaction points. Modern technology offers many opportunities to enrich the experience even further, especially since it is developing at breakneck speed.

Customer experience is said to overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator by 2020 and 89 per cent of companies will compete on customer experience. According to research by Accenture, 87 per cent of the consumer surveyed stated that brands need to create a more consistent ‘omnichannel’ experience across all touch points.


Voice-enabled assistance

There’s already a trend of using ‘voice enabled’ assistance – digital assistants are on the rise and grew in 2016, with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant. Even though these assistants will evolve in the future, the human touch will be omnipotent to offer more advanced forms of services while robots take care of basic customer care. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced during his Google I/O 2016 keynote that 20 per cent of mobile queries are voice searches and the ratio of voice search is growing faster than type search.

Seamless digital strategy

Digital will no more be a division under marketing; it will run across the organisation. All consumer touchpoints will need to deliver the same brand experience; it is no more only marketing’s role.

Social media marketing

Connecting with the consumers over social media has become a basic necessity for brands and businesses. Millennials are changing the digital advertising world; with incredible purchasing power and specific interests, this generation is much more likely to communicate their ideas and feelings over social media platforms.

Research shows that the impact of traditional advertising had dropped. When trying to figure out whether something is worth buying, millennials will go to their friends and social networks to see what people think. This can be used as an opportunity for your next targeted campaign for them.

Video Content

Using storytelling is key for enhanced customer experience. Most marketers understand that online videos have the full potential to help improve their reach and engagement with customers. And as a result, increasing their investment in the digital video space.

According to Cisco, video will account for 69 per cent of all consumer traffic. Video, as many believe, is the future of content marketing. This is the quickest way of satisfying one’s information/entertainment needs. Youtube receives 1 billion unique visitors every month, this is more than any other channel besides Facebook. One can now upload videos longer that 15 minutes on Youtube.

With the introduction of Facebook Live and Instagram videos, live video marketing is fast becoming popular among brands too. This gives customers and fans/followers real-time access to brands and companies, creating more transparency and authentic engagement.


E-commerce will help gather more information about the consumer. The National Retail Federation predicts that online retail will grow from eight to 12 per cent, compared to brick-and-mortar retail, which is expected to grow at just 2.8 per cent. Stores and brands will increasingly collect customer data in 2020. Detailed profiles based on purchases in the past important lessons about consumer behaviour from IoT will help equip brands better.

Augmented reality and virtual reality

AR and VR are enhancing and transforming the shopping experience as we know it. A recent demonstration of AR technology by startup Magic Leap showed how a user could superimpose virtual models of lamps and other room décor atop a real-world dresser, with the digital objects shown to scale, to help the user determine how those items might look within the space. They can explore the brick-and-mortar store from the comfort of their couches. It’s not far from when AR and VR will reach your living room and be on your handheld devices.

Drone delivery

Drones will make delivery easier and even returning packages will be much easier in the future than it is now.

Artificial intelligence

IBM’s Watson is already analysing ‘unstructured’ data, including social media posts, videos and images, which are among the largest and fastest-growing forms of consumer communication. This offers marketers a closer look at the consumer mindset, including how and when consumers want to engage with brands. Accenture research on the impact of AI in 12 developed economies reveals that AI could double annual economic growth rates in 2035 by increasing labour productivity by up to 40 per cent and enable people to make more efficient use of their time.

Data-driven marketing:

Big Data is said to dominate marketing in a few years and we have access to tools that are helping us to move beyond big data, to aggregate and process data at a faster pace, in real time, across a broader set of touchpoints.

Data harmonisation:

In order to understand the customer journey – which is inherently seamless – you need to be able to see trends and the cause and effect across data sets. This means you need to bring all your data together in one platform, and link up fields where they are similar – such as ‘campaign name’ or ‘country’. For a true view of your customers, budgets and campaigns, you need to harmonise your data.

Thus, the fact is the CMO role is no more about marketing. It’s more about delivering the brand experience to consumers. Long live the consumer. Welcome the new CXO.

The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Gulf Marketing Review. The article appeared in the Sep 2017 issue of GMR. 



Why marketers are focusing on Experiential Marketing

Image result for experiential marketing

Traditional marketing practices such as television, radio and print advertising are known to be a form of communication that deliver the brand’s message either verbally or visually. Experiential marketing on the other hand helps the brand engage with the consumer by interacting with them through as many senses possible. Instead of merely receiving information on the brand and its products, experiential marketing aims to create a series of events where consumers are provided with the opportunity, to taste, touch, learn and experience the product prior to making the purchasing decision.

More often than not, experiential marketing was known to be used by brands to supplement traditional marketing campaigns. However, over time brands have started to understand how independent experiential marketing programs can also strongly influence their consumers.

The primary reasons for this can be identified as the following:

  • Statistics from Blackjack Promotions state that 89% of consumers want to try a product before they buy it.
  • Brands are starting to sense how difficult it is to connect with consumers through traditional marketing methods, as they grow more and more likely to block and ignore ads.

As stated by the CMO of Mastercard, Raja Rajamannar, with the amount of clutter the consumers have to cut through on a daily basis, their attention span has reduced to 6 seconds. In order to inspire the consumer in that amount of time, it is imperative for a brand to develop customer relationships by allowing them to co-create the brand’s marketing program. This in-turn will imbed a memorable and emotional link in the consumer’s mind about the brand.

An article on AdWeek identifies how several brands such as, Jaguar, Absolut, Mastercard and more have started investing in experiential marketing to work on creating a substantial relationship with the consumer in order to induce customer loyalty. This is primarily because through experiential marketing brands can have a conversation with the consumers where there is dialogue going back & forth hence allowing them to listen and understand their needs, wants or concerns.

Having said all of the above, in today’s day & age the importance of social media has slightly altered the KPIs for experiential marketing. Brands have noted that if the experience isn’t being documented and amplified on social platforms the exercise becomes worthless.


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